Pathways Into the Parks

By: Harshita Somani

August 10, 2021

Category: People of the Parks

Internships are coveted in high school. Summer rolls around, and every student wants one – yet few organizations hire anyone beneath college.  

I was on the search for a summer internship this spring, and it had not been going well. I searched for internships within marketing, business and related fields, but opportunities seemed to be bone dry.  

Then I found out about the Pathways Internship program. I was already part of the Teen Council here at Three Rivers, and buried at the bottom of an email there was a small paragraph about the program along with a link to the page. I found the application just a couple of days before the deadline, and I immediately knew I wanted to apply. The application was due on April 11 at 11:59 PM, and I submitted it on April 11 at 11:50 PM. Procrastination at its finest.  

But an application, interview and a few emails later, it all worked out when I secured the marketing internship. I love marketing and business, so I was incredibly excited to spend my summer getting paid to learn about and do something I already had an interest and passion for.   

My Experience on the Marketing Team 

I was very anxious on my first day and had absolutely no idea what to expect. But the Marketing team was so incredibly welcoming and friendly from the first day I was here at the Administrative Center that I didn’t feel a single bit out of place. Everybody was eager to talk to me, teach me and help me learn, which made the greatest difference between an intern doing grunt work and an intern doing work that is a valuable learning experience.    

One of my primary tasks was working on updating the Three Rivers Park District website content to match the new brand refresh and style guide. I worked in a content management system and had tasks set up that led me through exactly what I needed to do. Search engine optimization, updating pages, link checking and more was a part of my daily job.  

I also worked with other members of the team within their specialties; I got to learn about and complete tasks related to social media, graphic design, public relations and much more.

One of my favorite things that I got to do this summer was star in a promotional video for the upcoming Ski Rennet Race. I was dressed in full winter gear over at Hyland Lake Park Reserve (in the middle of a hot summer day), trying to cross-country ski in the grass! The experience was super entertaining and fun.

Harshita and Brett dressed in full winter gear outside.

Overall, this summer has given me a comprehensive overview of marketing and experience with its specific functions.  

The Purpose of Pathways 

One of the key goals of the Pathways program is for interns to gain information that can help them make important decisions regarding their future when the time comes. Throughout the summer, we had three development days in which we worked on networking, resume writing and speaking with other professionals. By getting exposure to different career paths, we are now better educated and informed to make important decisions when the time comes.  

Group planning activity at Richardson Nature Center.
Pathways development day at Richardson Nature Center. 

Choosing a life path at the mere age of 18 is a difficult task, and Pathways works to alleviate that stress by providing real-world experience and information.  

Other Pathways Experiences 

There are approximately 20 other Pathways interns, all in different roles around the park district. I reached out to a couple of these interns to discover what their experience has been like so far this summer.  

Sara Gaines, an Outdoor Education Intern at Eastman Nature Center relayed that her experience has been fantastic. She loves getting to work with young children and youth and connecting these kids with nature. Through this program, she learned that she possibly wants a degree in science—maybe related to animals. She also learned that she enjoys teaching other people and learning new information.  

Sara Gaines teaching a group of kids outside.
Sara Gaines teaching a summer camp at Eastman Nature Center. 

Another intern for the Pathways program is Shreya Kakkad, the IT/GIS intern. She stated that her “favorite experience as a Pathways intern was scanning the buildings at The Landing to make virtual tours. I especially enjoyed scanning buildings like the General Store and Dressmakers' Shop because of the various items in the rooms.”  

Drew Heyer is the maintenance intern at the Hyland Hills Ski Area, and he explained that every day has been different, which is what has made his experience so unique. Some of his duties include mowing, using the Bobcat, pouring concrete, spray painting, greasing chairlifts, and so much more. Overall, he says he has learned a lot and that this experience has been incredibly valuable.  

Photo of Drew Heyer.

Shreya, Sara and Drew all had completely different roles, yet they all learned a lot about themselves and the career field they were shadowing in and had a fulfilling internship experience this summer.  

It's Your Turn to Get Involved! 

The Pathways Internship has been an invaluable learning experience. I was in an environment where my mentor(s) were willing and happy to teach, I was given engaging tasks to complete, and I got to delve into the world of marketing. The program taught me a lot about my own interests and skills. There are numerous roles within this program, both outdoors and indoors, that will be sure to fit your interests too.  

The application for the Pathways Internship program will open in the spring of next year. Until then, check out other Teen Opportunities at Three Rivers Park District to get involved during the school year!  

About the Author

Picture of Harshita Somani.

Harshita Somani is an upcoming senior at Wayzata High School and was the marketing intern at Three Rivers Park District in the summer of 2021. She grew up visiting various parks within Three Rivers and is now actively involved in the park district as a teenager. Harshita loves trying new things and is up for any adventure. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, dancing, and exploring new places.



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